Travel with Christina Valhouli: Detroit

Mention you’re going to Detroit and some people will raise an eyebrow. Detroit? Yes. Detroit. Here’s why you need to visit the big D.

Today, Motor City is in the midst of a creative and cultural renaissance. Entrepreneurs, chefs, artists and designers are flocking to the city in droves to contribute to its revival. Many transplants even describe it as a calling. Need more proof? Detroit was recently named the first American City of Design by UNESCO. All of this translates into a city where the enthusiasm, energy and creativity are palpable. Walk around Detroit and you’ll see street art, pop-up shops and new restaurants, bars and boutiques. And best of all? All this creativity is served up with plenty of pride and zero attitude. Here’s a look at the city’s most stylish spots.

Foundation Hotel

WHERE TO STAY | The brand-new Foundation Hotel is located in a neo-classical building that was the former Detroit fire department headquarters. The design pays homage to both Detroit’s automotive and rock and roll heritage. There’s a street-level recording studio and guests are given red auto fuses to redeem for a complimentary coffee or tea. The lobby-level Apparatus restaurant has a long communal bar and an open kitchen. Don’t miss the lighting installations from the local Incite Design. Elsewhere, art in the hotel has been curated by the Red Bull House of Art.


HOTELS COMING SOON | Detroit is in the midst of a hotel boom. Retailers Shinola and West Elm have boutique hotels in the works, and a new Aloft Hotel is slated to open soon.

WHAT TO DO: MUSIC | Pay your respects to the city’s Motown past with a visit to the Motown Museum, a humble home where it all started. Fast forward a few musical genres at Jack White’s Third Man Records. Visitors can catch a live performance, browse the LPs or see the bright yellow vinyl press in action at the back of the store. Fans of classical music can head to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Z Garage

WHAT TO DO: ART | The collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) includes works by Van Gogh and Monet, but don’t miss the enormous Detroit Industry murals by Diego Rivera, a tribute to the city’s auto industry and workers. For modern art, head to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The Red Bull House of Art sponsors a residency for emerging artists from around the US; pop by for the latest exhibition. Make an appointment to stop by Lisa Spindler’s gallery. She’s an artist, photographer and collector of Detroit ephemera. The sprawling Cranbrook cranbrook.edu houses an art museum as well as the Institute of Science. Don’t miss the colorful murals inside The Z Garage.

WHERE TO SHOP | Shinola’s flagship store is home to a coffee bar, floral shop and its signature leather goods, including luxe turntables. Pick up LPs recorded live at the Jack White-owned Third Man Records. The sprawling Eastern Market easternmarket.com is packed with everything from produce, vintage items and baked goods. Try the tarts from Susan’s and pay a visit to Nora for creative gifts, delicate jewelry and housewares. Pick up a “Detroit is the New Black” T-shirt in its namesake store.

Selden StandardParks and Rec Diner

WHERE TO EAT | Kick off with a hearty breakfast at Parks and Rec. Omelets are topped with fresh flowers, or fill up with shrimp and grits. Selden Standard, serves locally sourced food such as thick soups in an industrial setting. Sit at the counter of Rose’s Fine Food for a BLT served with fried green tomatoes and homemade cake. Takoi resembles a futuristic shipping container but design aside, the real draw is the Northern Thai influenced food, along with innovative cocktails. The experimental Bad Luck Bar tucked down an alley, has only a handful of tables. Try the Dream, which is Irish whiskey crafted with cereal infused cream and Campari powdered sugar.

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